Kung Fu Hustle (2004) – Martial Arts and Comics


I don’t remember whether I ever watched this movie as a kid or not. I have a vague memory. However, I remember that all of my friends were talking about this movie. They talked about the sequence in which Qiu Yuen chased Stephen Chow and how the cobra bit Chow’s mouth. They talked about the epic sequence at the end of the movie and started talking again which part was the funniest most. I remember it all, but I have never watched this movie even once on television. So, why did it take 15 more years so that I could watch this film in full? I don’t know. But, I can conclude if this is a great entertaining movie.

We love martial arts films. You can say it such as “The Raid“, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, or even “The Matrix“. But, we always think what if martial arts are combined with comedy? As a result, it becomes “Kung Fu Hustle”, one of the goofy, ridiculous, fun movies ever. Just take it as simple martial arts, but you can also modify it into the most wonderful choreography besides it’s a comedy. It’s a movie that using a lot of slapstick comedy and cartoony humor in general. To be able to attract a lot of American attention as well, Chow tried to insert references to American films. You can call it such as “The Shining“, “The Matrix Reloaded”, “The Road Runner Show”, “The Godfather”, “Casablanca”, etc.

Speaking of Stephen Chow, I remember watching “Shaolin Soccer” until I don’t know how many times. It’s another goofy entertaining movie as well from Chow, combining sports and kung fu into one of the most ridiculous things ever. Chow uses everything, no matter how cartoonish the special effects or how comic the camera angles, it’s just amazing. The trick is that not too many actors in Hollywood are skilled in martial arts, other than those who are trained first before going into the filming. Sure, there are Jean-Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris, as well as Keanu Reeves. But, there isn’t enough to look and to find at.

Of course, we never know how Chow wrote this movie script while smoking a weed. We never know until you see this movie. Obviously, “Kung Fu Hustle” is a movie in general. You don’t have to analyze what’s the point of all of these or try to nitpicking and pointing every plot holes. It’s intended as its point. This is a movie where you watch it with friends, laugh together, and give it the rest. The plot involved an Axe gang, more precisely they all used axes to kill people. But, they are a hilarious mafia. On the other hand, there is a Shanghai slum, Pig Sty Alley, ruled by an egoistic-like landlady.

Qiu Yuen reminds of cartoon characters who smoke a lot, always smokes and her cigarettes never run out and can’t fall from her mouth. The Axe gang, all of them, wore black suits, carrying axes, and wore top hats. Unintentionally, an incident suddenly occurred and ended with a feud between Pig Sty Alley and the Axe Gang. All of this is because of Sing (Stephen Chow), a homeless guy who always claims to be the Axe Gang member. He isn’t a member of the gang.

“Kung Fu Hustle” is like a movie with lots of ridiculous details if you want to see. It’s kind of like when you’re hallucinating, like “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas“, but an image like this movie appears in the shadows of your head. Imagine having a surrealist feeling because you don’t judge the book by its cover. When ordinary characters emerge, they suddenly become a true strong warrior, very professional, and very wild. This is due to Chow’s back work. Besides being a director, he is also a producer and writer of this film. We get the sense of it, how many comedy films are inspired by Buster Keaton films and also cartoons in general. Similarly, “Shaolin Soccer” is now a phenomenal just by hearing its name.

People spin kick people, people uppercut people, people kill people, and people punched people. It’s just, well, a fighting martial arts movie without having to impress artistic or essence. “Kung Fu Hustle” is a more precisely a movie. It’s unrealistic in a funny way and ridiculous in a comical way, like a Tarantino meeting with Chaplin and Keaton. It’s hilarious. Just free your imagination and if you, at all, have never watched this film, just watch it now. It’s comical.

Salman Al Farisi

An Indonesian who loves to watch and read everything. A literary student who likes to write about reviews and essays on Crackdown Review. But, I just wannabe critics who love arthouse than anything.

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